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Massa heads Ferrari 1-2 in Sepang qualifying

NEWS STORY
22/03/2008

Ahead of today's all-important qualifying session, the air temperature is 29 degrees C, and the track temperature is 46 degrees. It remains bright and sunny, with no sign, currently, of the rain that had been forecast. However, some remain convinced hat there will be a downpour before the end of the session… and when it rain in Malaysia, it rains. Humidity is currently 79%.

Nick Heidfeld was quickest in this morning's free practice session, ahead of the two Ferraris. Interestingly, Heidfeld set his best time on the harder of the two compounds available as opposed to the softer (medium) that most of the other drivers were running on.

The lights go green and the first twenty minute phase gets underway. With an eye on the weather, the Ferraris are amongst the first out, as are the Renaults and Lewis Hamilton.

Despite official assurances that there would be no rain in the first thirty minutes, Alonso is warned that it will begin to fall at "seven minutes past". Nonetheless, Kovalainen and the BMWs remain in their respective garages.

Bourdais posts the first time of the session, crossing the line at 38.410, but this is soon beaten by Massa and then Raikkonen. Hamilton takes third with a 36.604 before being demoted by Trulli.

Webber gores third, as Raikkonen goes quickest in the second sector. Still no sign of the BMWs or Kovalainen.

Raikkonen improves with a 35.645, as Glock goes third. Elsewhere, Kovalainen and Kubica head down the pitlane.

As Massa looks set to improve, Hamilton goes quickest in the second sector. Massa takes top spot with a 35.347, as Hamilton goes second on 35.392. Heidfeld has left the pits.

Rosberg goes seventh, as Kovalainen, Kubica and Heidfeld begin their first flying laps. The Finn goes quickest, crossing the line at 35.227, as Kubica goes fifth, only to be almost instantly demoted by his BMW teammate. Kovalainen struggling for grip at the final corner like so many others this weekend. Heidfeld also really fighting his car.

Piquet goes seventh as Nakajima takes eighth. Meanwhile, Fisichella, Bourdais, Button and Barrichello all on hot laps.

Jarno Trulli goes quickest in the first sector, as Button goes seventh. The Italian, having been perfect through the final corner, goes quickest with a 35.205. A great lap.

With six minutes remaining, Alonso, Vettel and Coulthard are still in the 'danger zone'. Rosberg, Bourdais and Webber are not entirely safe.

Alonso is fighting the Renault, however he, like Rosberg, posts a personal best in the first sector. Webber also on a good lap. All three maintain their pace in the second sector, however, when the smoke clears Webber is fifth, with Rosberg ninth and Alonso eleventh.

Just over two minutes and Coulthard and Vettel are still in the 'danger zone'. The Scot takes twelfth, which is bad news for Barrichello, Fisichella and Nakajima.

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